Barcelona Coach Xavi Welcomes Return of Ter Stegen and Raphinha to Bolster Title Challenge

Barcelona’s head coach, Xavi Hernandez, delivered positive news on Saturday, confirming the return of goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and winger Raphinha from injury to fortify the team’s pursuit of salvaging their ailing title defense in La Liga.

With the reigning champions currently placed third in the league standings, trailing leaders Real Madrid by eight points, Barcelona faces a crucial fixture against Granada on Sunday, presenting an opportunity to narrow the gap on the top two teams.

Ter Stegen, who last featured for Barcelona in November due to a back injury, is set to reclaim his position between the goalposts, replacing Inaki Pena, who deputized in his absence. Xavi expressed his delight at having Ter Stegen back, highlighting the goalkeeper’s pivotal role as one of the squad’s captains and leaders.

“(Ter Stegen) is a key player for us, one of the captains and leaders of the squad,” Xavi remarked during a news conference. “I’m very happy with Inaki, he showed he’s a goalkeeper who can be trusted (but) very happy for Marc — he’s so key for us and the squad.”

In addition to Ter Stegen’s return, Xavi also confirmed Raphinha’s availability after recovering from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for several weeks. The winger’s comeback provides a significant boost to Barcelona’s attacking options and adds depth to the squad ahead of crucial fixtures.

“Rapha will be available tomorrow, he’s recovered well,” Xavi announced. “We’ve seen him train and he’s in the same dynamic as he was before his injury.”

As Barcelona prepares to face Granada, Xavi acknowledged the importance of securing a victory to capitalize on any potential slip-ups from their title rivals. With Real Madrid facing second-placed Girona, Xavi emphasized the need for Barcelona to maintain pressure in the title race by securing all three points.

“What we need to do is win tomorrow and even more so knowing that one of the two, or both of them, will drop points,” Xavi asserted, highlighting the significance of each remaining fixture in Barcelona’s quest for domestic success under his leadership.

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